Riley: Dundee can stay up
Dundee goalscorer Nicky Riley is convinced they can stay in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League after tightening up at the back as they followed victory over Hearts with a 1-1 draw against Motherwell at Fir Park.
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Riley put Dundee ahead in the 28th minute against the run of play but the Dens Park side grew into the game as an attacking force and withstood some spells of second-half pressure after Michael Higdon's equaliser in first-half injury-time.
Riley impressed in right midfield as he continues his comeback from an injury-hit start to the season and burst on to a loose ball to sweep the ball just inside Darren Randolph's far post.
Jim McAlister looked dangerous on the left and Colin Nish and Steven Milne are showing signs of forming a decent partnership up front.
But it was in defence that Dundee were most impressive. Motherwell passed up a series of chances in the first half but struggled to break their visitors down after the interval, although Higdon had a late strike ruled out for offside.
Dundee are now just four points off second-bottom St Mirren after being written off in many quarters.
Riley said: "When you go behind against SPL teams, it's hard to come back. It definitely helps to get the first goal and have something to defend.
"Last week was a massive result and it just gave everyone a lift. Getting another point gives us momentum.
"We are a bit more hard to beat now. A lot of the times it was individual errors. Against Inverness we were two goals down in four minutes and it's hard to come back from that.
"The last two games we have defended well, and when you do that you give yourselves a chance.
"We are probably getting used to the league. We did have a slow start but now we are playing well. "We definitely have the capabilities and have a good squad so I don't see why we can't stay up."
Dundee's defensive display was underpinned by young centre-back pairing Declan Gallagher and Kyle Benedictus.
Gallagher, 21, had to wait until late October for his first SPL start following his summer move from Clyde but he and 20-year-old Benedictus have now played three games together and were solid.
Smith said: "He has waited his time to get in and in the last three games he has done extremely well. Young Benedictus beside him has done well too."
Higdon levelled with a tap-in after Henrik Ojamaa's shot had been parried by Rab Douglas and thought he had won it with three minutes left when he volleyed home after a Keith Lasley shot had taken a deflection.
"I have just seen it on DVD," Higdon said. "I think I was possibly onside when he struck it but it was deflected early and then gone sky high and I probably did look offside.
"But sometimes you get them and other times you don't. That's just the way the game went for us.
"I thought we had so much of the ball, it seemed to be waves of attack at times. Just getting that killer goal has been our Achilles heel.
"The first goal in any SPL match is important and when you are chasing the game it can be difficult. Overall I thought we deserved to win."
Motherwell have won just once in eight games but Higdon does not believe confidence will be affected.
"We are playing well and creating chances and we just need to be more clinical in front of goal," he said.
"That's not just the strikers, also the midfielders and maybe at set-pieces be a bit tougher."